I have particular interest in mathematics, science, and technology education and hope to stay involved in this realm for my entire life. Since it is quite high on today’s national policy agenda, hopefully action will be expedited to show progress domestically. Then in fixing our national education system, we can serve as a good example to developing nations in how to structure early education and community programs to maximize intellectual growth.
- Math education must start at the earliest possible age. A coordinated national early childhood mathematics initiative should be put in place to improve mathematics teaching and learning, particularly for ages 3 to 6.
- We must engrain mathematics and statistics as an environment and a behavioral necessity at an early age. Analytical processing, spatial thinking, and problem solving skills should become part of every day life at a very young age. The report says mathematics experiences in early childhood settings should concentrate on: A) numbers (whole numbers, operations, relations), and B) geometry, spatial relations and measurement. “How should I cut the cake so that everyone gets a piece?”
- Mathematical process goals should be integrated in other content areas. Math should not be a stand-alone subject but should be a part of the curriculum for history, english, art, music, and other subjects/classes.
- We must improve the technical and scientific literacy of the general public. This should be done by promoting “number comfort” from early education through adolescence and making math and science education a family, real life, and every day thing.
- There need to be revised professional development initiatives for educators reflecting science/technical/mathematical curriculum needs.
- Early childhood education partnerships should be formed between family and community programs to work together in promoting children’s mathematics.
In my own point of view, I think there needs to be some sort of accreditation program for mathematics and statistics education, covering preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school (truly, high school is a different story, but certainly some aspects by which the Pre-8 schools might be evaluated are applicable to grades 9-12 as well). A stepwise and gradated approach to evaluation of statistical/mathematical initiatives should help schools work from their current status to a desired and achievable one.
- Administration/Management – Quantitative methods should be made operational in the management and evaluation of educators within the school system. It not only promotes understanding of such methods, but is also an engine for measurable results, positive reinforcement, professional development, and recognition. In some sense, schools are run like a business that should employ quantitative methods to ensure profitable return, an optimized allocation of resources, and quality control. Employ the DIS cycle and school administration will certainly find it easier to know what works, and what does not.
- Culture/Community – As stated in the NRC report, partnerships must be formed between the student, school, family, and local community. Evaluation should occur on how well a school takes steps to forge and maintain these relationships. How much do children hear about math in school as opposed to out of school?
- Curriculum – The most obvious one involves evaluation of the process by which a school teaches math and statistics. Does the school sustain its process equally over time? Do educators use a wide array of techniques to teach mathematical concepts?